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Champions Cup final preview: Duncan Taylor banking on Saracens’ experience

Champions Cup final preview: Duncan Taylor banking on Saracens’ experience

With a domestic and European double still on the cards for Saracens, Duncan Taylor insists the side’s experience of disappointment in recent years can get them over the line this time around.

The 26-year-old Scotland centre, Sarries players’ player of the season for this year, has been a key part of the squad that has tasted both success and bitter disappointment in recent seasons.

Their Aviva Premiership Rugby glory last term came after topping the table the previous two years but failing to lift the trophy.

And while Saracens have become a real European juggernaut, reaching the final and semi-final of the continent’s premier competition in the last two seasons, they have twice seen their hopes ended by French sides.

Another French giant in Racing 92 awaits them on Saturday, but Taylor is certain that when Saracens take to the turf in Lyon they will be far better equipped to triumph than ever before.

“With the experience we've had over the last few years in these big European games, and with guys becoming internationals, that really helps,” he told Saracens' official website.

“We know what to expect in these games, we aren't as anxious or nervous because we've been there before.

“We've learned a lot together as a squad over the past four or five years. We've played in a lot of big games as a team and they've taught us a lot.

“The togetherness of the squad really shines through in these tight encounters and it gets us over the line.

“We've done well this season but have a massive three weeks with some huge games, starting in Lyon this weekend. It's going to be a huge test for the squad and we're all really excited.

“You want to be going out there and playing for people you care about, and that's what we've developed here.

“It's a special feeling when you go out on that field and you're fighting for the person next to you. It really can help in crunch games; it could end up being the turning factor.”

A Racing 92 side packed full of international talent awaits Saracens in Lyon.

All eyes will be on No.10 Dan Carter – who is looking to add the Northern Hemisphere’s top prize to his glittering collection of silverware – and his battle with England’s Owen Farrell will be fascinating.

But in truth Racing’s threats come from all over the field, with the likes of semi-final man of the match Maxime Machenaud at scrum-half and the pairing of Juan Imhoff and Joe Rokocoko on the flanks.

The form guide looks good for Saracens however, who are bidding to become the first side ever to win all their Pool games and lift the trophy, and they have won their last four match ups with Racing.

The game is set to be a real clash of the titans, and Saracens (34.1) have averaged the most points per game in the competition this season while Racing have statistically the best defence.

But McCall has urged his players to go out and enjoy the occasion, as he is confident that win or lose, Saturday’s game will not be this particular group’s last shot at European glory.

He said: “Of course we want to be able to put our best foot forward, we didn’t do that two years ago.

“Maybe because we weren’t good enough, maybe we weren’t experienced enough, but I think we are experienced enough now and it is important that we put our best foot forward.

“Part of that is for us to just get into the game, relaxed and ready to enjoy ourselves because in the quarter final against Northampton we were a bit anxious and a bit worried about the outcome and we certainly don’t play our best rugby when we are like that.

“We have got players who are unbelievably ambitious and are eager to get better who are in their early and mid-twenties, so regardless what happens I believe we are going to play in more of these big matches.”

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final

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